While the eyes of the world were on Madonna di Campiglio, the Italian ski resort which hosted Ducati's Wrooom! event, where Valentino Rossi was officially introduced as a Ducati rider, over in the Czech Republic, another Ducati rider was taking center stage. On Wednesday, the Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati held their official launch, presenting Karel Abraham as their rider for the 2011 season.
The team was launched with at least as much glitz and glamor as the Marlboro Ducati factory team, and with a huge amount of interest from the local Czech media. This is no doubt in part due to the fact that Karel Abraham's father, Karel senior, is an immensely wealthy businessman, owning the Cardion medical supplies firm, as well as the Brno circuit, but the excitement among Czech fans is genuine enough. Abraham is the first ever Czech rider to race in the MotoGP class, and coming off a surprising strong season in Moto2, including his first ever win at the last race of the 2010 season at Valencia.
Abraham has faced a lot of criticism from some quarters, his detractors claiming that the Czech rider is only in MotoGP because his father can afford to fund the team from his own pocket. While it is undoubtedly true that being able to pay Ducati the lease for the Desmosedici GP11 helps, there is no denying the Czech rider's talent. At the Valencia tests, Abraham impressed those present by posting strong times, ending the second day of the test just 1.7 seconds off fastest man of the test, newly-crowned 2010 MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo, and finishing ahead of the reigning Moto2 champion and former MotoGP rider Toni Elias.
Whether Abraham can continue to match the pace of the MotoGP regulars remains to be seen, but the 21-year-old Czech will get his next chance to prove his worth at the Sepang MotoGP tests on February 1st. But whatever the youngster's pace, his father and his team can surely put on a show, as the official team photos of the launch, and a Youtube video sent to us by Gordon Howell of the super-efficient Pole Position Travel company, who run a range of packages to all of the MotoGP and World Superbike events.
Video from the launch:
More photos on the Pole Position Travel website.
Official press release:
Karel Abraham enters MotoGP
Czech motorcycle rider Karel Abraham is preparing for his first season in the premier class.
Motorcycle Ducati Desmosedici GP11 in colors of the Cardion ab Motoracing team is now ready for the first test which will be held at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia early in February. The second test is then scheduled at the same circuit for the last week of February. "After the second test we could have the first indications of how much we will be successfull this year," estimated Karel Abraham.
"The bike is much more difficult to control and requires perfect physical fitness," says Abraham after his first experience with the new bike. Due to the move to the MotoGP class team brought in three people from Ducati factory - track engineer Cristhian Pupulin, telemetry analyst Dario Massarin and spare parts technician Michele Bubbolini. "We are very satisfied with the cooperation with Ducati," said team manager Karel Abraham Sr. Marco Grana, Martin Havlicek, Martin Nesvadba, Yannis Maigret, and Pietro Berti who were in the team also previous seasons remained. "All of them are professionals. They are working very well and together they create a great team," added Abraham Sr.
Karel Abraham completed first official MotoGP test after winning a race in Valencia. During the first day of testing he was 3.064 seconds slower than the fastest rider Jorge Lorenzo but during the second day he lost only 1.727 seconds. „Compared to the last year, rookies Bautista and Barbera were three seconds slower than the fastest riders. Karel lost only 1.7 seconds although Lorenzo was as fast as he was during the race weekend,“ said Abraham Sr.
Karel Abraham will be the first Czech rider in the premier class. He ended last season with a win in the Grand Prix of Valencia and finished 10th in the overall standings of the Moto2 class. "Karel proved that he is a very fast rider. He has a huge potential to do well right from the start of the season. Next year there will be a lot of fast riders in the premier class so it is clear that the competition will be huge. But in Valencia we showed what we are able to do," concluded crew chief of the Cardion ab Motoracing team Marco Grana.